Health | Wellness | Yoga | Chicago

How to Be Healthy On a College Budget: The Workout Guide


Last week, I shared my tips about how to stay healthy on a college budget through making smart choices regarding food and groceries in my post titled: How To Be Healthy On A College Budget: An Ode To Trader Joe’s. This week, I will talk about saving money on workouts!


There are so many different kinds of workout classes out there, whether it’s yoga, pilates, or HIIT, they all have one thing in common: they cost money. It makes me so sad when people say they can’t afford workout classes or they don’t want to spend money on working out, so they decide to do away with workout classes and yoga completely. Here are some tips to help you become encouraged about working out, despite the cost!


At Home Workouts

Although it’s really nice to actually go to a class, it can be just as beneficial to workout at home. One of the easiest workouts to do at “home” is going for a walk or a run outside. You don’t need any equipment: just you, and preferably a pair of headphones. If you hate running, then don’t run! Walking can be just as efficient and it’s really healthy to get outside and get moving everyday. If you only kinda hate running, go for short runs! I feel like there’s this weird thing about running where everyone thinks they have to run super far, you don’t. Everyone’s body is different and running long distances isn’t for everyone. For me personally, sometimes I run just one mile outside, and then come back and do some weight stuff at my house. A mile or two gives my body a good workout. I rarely run for longer than three miles. However, there’s nothing wrong with loving running and running longer distances if that works for you. Running is a really good workout; it can be hard on the body, but as long as you are stretching appropriately before and after runs, go for it! One of my favorite tools to use when I run is the Nike+ Run Club App. It tracks your exact route of where you ran, it tells you out loud when you have traveled a mile and your mile time/average pace, and it lets you play your own music in the background.


Asana Rebel

This is the best app for at-home yoga if you’re not comfortable flowing on your own, or you just like a little direction (which I often times do). Every single day, there is a brand new 5 minute yoga session which is perfect if you need some help waking up in the morning. Along with that, there is also a new 10-15 minute workout everyday if you have a couple extra minutes on your hands. Did I mention the app is completely free!? It’s amazing. There are also workout plans and programs that you can do through the app. I personally have done the Fatburn I program and I really enjoyed it. The workouts are all short and sweet and always feature new moves.  It’s honestly so great for a beginner yogi who wants to practice, but isn’t ready to jump in a class just yet. because it teaches you all of the basics. There is even a feature in the app titled “Exercises” that breaks down individual yoga moves and how to do them. It’s also great for more experienced yogis to make sure they are fitting in their practice everyday, and for experimenting with their own flows that build off of the Asana Rebel flows.


Popsugar Fitness

Another one of my favorite apps is the Popsugar Fitness app: ACTIVE. There are different categories of workouts such as Strength Training, Running, Yoga, and Cardio. My favorite workouts to use are the Strength Training ones. Within Strength Training, there are more categories based on which area of the body you want to taregt: Full Body, Abs, Arms, Back, Butt, and Legs. Some of them use weights, some of them don’t. Some of them are follow along videos and some are just a list of circuits. These workouts are completely free and perfect for when I want to fit in some strength training after my runs. They also have really good HIIT treadmill workouts if you get bored easily on the treadmill. If you are unaware of what HIIT is, it stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It involves giving 100% effort in a workout for a short amount of time, followed by short recovery periods. It’s extremely efficient because HIIT workouts are short and concise. It also helps your body burn more fat that if you were just doing steady cardio. Personally, I get bored on the treadmill if I am just running at a constant rate, so I use the HIIT workouts to switch it up and before I know it, I am running a couple miles without even realizing.


A trapeze yoga workshop at The Foundry, led by Kristen Osborn, a yoga teacher from Yoga Six (mentioned below)


Work Where You Workout:

Another tip I have for saving money on workout classes, is to work at the place where you want to workout! I have done this at several places, and it has ended up saving me tons of money. People wonder how I afford to go to yoga and workout almost everyday, and my answer is that I don’t afford it, because I do not pay for all of my workouts. Luckily, I have been grateful enough to work at most of the places where I workout on a regular basis.


Clean For Yoga:

If you like to do yoga, I HIGHLY recommend you ask if your studio has something like a “Clean for Yoga” program. Almost all of the studios I have been to have this as an option. From personal experiences, most studios have you clean for 3 hours a week (on one specific day) and in return, instead of getting paid, you get free unlimited yoga. For me, that saves me over $100 worth of yoga classes per month. I also love using the studio to meditate or practice when nobody is around, it’s extremely relaxing and fulfilling. I have cleaned at CorePower Yoga and Yoga Six in the South Loop. If you live in the Chicago area and you are interested in the Clean for Yoga program at Yoga Six, email me!


Kid’s Room:

Another option for getting free workouts is working in a Kid’s Room at a workout studio. At most pilates or strength training studios, there is a Kid’s Room where the parents can drop off their kids to be watched while they workout. For me, this was perfect because I love kids (and babies!). I am not totally sure how it works at other places, but I currently work at Shred415 and here’s the deal: You work in the kids room at least 3 hours a week, you get paid and hourly wage, AND you get free, unlimited workout classes. This freaking rocks because not only do you get the free workouts, but you get paid as well! For Shred 415, you can either work in the Kid’s Room or the front desk as well. If you’re in the Chicago area and you’re interested in working at Shred 415 South Loop, email me!


Buy Classes In Bulk:

One more tip that I have for saving money with workouts is NEVER buy single classes every time you go. You can save so much money by buying classes in class packs, or per month. Normally, the more classes you buy at once, the cheaper it is. If you are going to go about once a week, try buying a five class pack or a ten class pack; but if you’re going to go all of the time, buy a per-month membership. Usually, the first month is discounted and you can always cancel it! Also always be on the lookout for deals. Almost every yoga studio I’ve been to has a free week of yoga where you can have one week of unlimited free yoga. Take advantage of that! Go to every yoga studio in your area and try your free week, and then decide which one you like best. You also have to find those teachers that you really vibe with!


Along with discounts that the actual studios have going on, it’s always a good idea to check Groupon and Gilt City for promotions with workout studios.


Studio Reviews

I am always excited and willing to try out new workouts! Most workout places offer a free first class and I definitley take advantage of that when I can. I am going to share with you all of the workout studios I have been to, and my honest opinion about all of them. I will add to this list as I have more experiences at new workout places!

Yoga Six locker room


Yoga Studios


CorePower Yoga

The CorePower studios are truly amazing places; I have nothing but nice things to say. There are several locations all throughout the city and the suburbs, so it’s very accessible to all. Each teacher that I’ve had at a CorePower has had their own unique teaching style and I have a new experience every time I go. They offer a variety of yoga classes, as well as, a yoga sculpt class. The sculpt class is one of the best workouts I have experienced; the weight training and cardio links-up with loud blaring music and the teachers are extremely motivating. (My favorite Yoga Sculpt class is Friday/Sunday morning at 9:00am at the LaGrange studio with Gina K).  The studios welcome any level of practice, but the opportunity to challenge yourself is definitely present.  The studios are large which means that some classes have a large number of students; however, one I was the only student in a class which makes for an intimate experience. CorePower is a great space for any level yogi and you will always walk out of class having learned something new. They also offer free Community Classes open to everyone a couple times a month, so be on the lookout. The schedules are available on the CorePower Yoga App as well as online.

CorePower Yoga – Various locations throughout Chicago and the suburbs, I practice at 1 E Burlington Ave, 2nd floor, LaGrange.


Yoga By Degrees

This studio was the one that inspired me to begin my yoga practice.  The environment is calm and welcoming and the staff is more than happy to have new students.  It’s a medium sized location that has two studios.  The classes include hot yoga, vinyasa and yoga sculpt classes, as well as, restorative classes.  This studio allows you to challenge yourself as much or as little as you choose. I really enjoy taking class at night at Yoga By Degrees because the lights are often dimmed, and I always feel extremely relaxed yet also challenged during these classes. The “degrees” portion means that for each class, you will know exactly how many degrees the class is heated to. There are no current locations in the city, only in the suburbs, but it is definitely worth the trip.  The best part of the experience at Yoga by Degrees is the refreshing lavender cloth that they place on your forehead at the end of your practice.  If you’re looking for a starting point, Yoga by Degrees is the place to go.

Yoga by Degrees – Various locations throughout the suburbs, I practice at 4700 Gilbert Ave #16, Western Springs.


Yoga Six

The vibes of this studio are more professional and serious than the others.  It is still a welcoming space  as all yoga environments should be — and everybody is extremely friendly, but the teaching style is a bit more resolute than others.  The fully stocked locker room at the studio is deluxe and offers a nice shower after your practice. Yoga Six offers a variety of classes such as vinyasa, hot yoga, power yoga and boot camp, giving you the ability to challenge yourself in a variety of ways. To find the right class for you, a little bit of experimentation is necessary.  The Power Yoga class is my favorite because it is hot, and each teacher and class is extremely different, yet all challenging. Yoga Six also offers special events such as Yoga at the Willis Tower, and partner boot camp, which can be fun to attend with friends. They also host an amazing mini yoga festival called Relaxapalooza every year which I highly recommend for any level yogi. Overall, this studio really encompasses the feeling of being an active yogi in the city of Chicago.  

Yoga Six – Various locations throughout Chicago, I practice at 1136 S Delano Court, Suite E-204, Chicago.


Yoga Loft Studios

This yoga studio is in a great location especially after you get past the struggle of hiking up four flights of stairs to get to the studios and the view at the top is definitely worth it.  The space is pretty small having just one large and one very small studio.  Yoga Loft welcomes any level; however, the classes tend to lean more towards inversions and advanced poses. Due to the smaller class sizes, I have noticed that the teachers are more hands-on and more willing to assist. The studio only offer vinyasa classes and restorative classes so if you’re looking for a challenge, this is the place for you.

Yoga Loft – location in Oak Park and Chicago, I practice at 15 W. Hubbard St, Chicago. 



I first tried this studio because a brand new location just opened up in LaGrange! I was drawn to it because one of my favorite yogi’s and teachers (ever), Cass (choosejoy), teaches her one personalized class there called VIBE yoga! It’s honestly one of my favorite classes. It begins with a relaxing meditation, and then moves into a sort of vinyasa flow and handstand/inversion practice. It ends with another guided meditation and sound bath! As far as talking about the studio as a whole, it’s a very small space with only one small studio. If you like small, intimate classes then this studio is for you. I haven’t had good experiences with every class and teacher there, but I love the fact that there are no mirrors in the studio; it’s a great change and really brings you to look inward and come back to your true intentions throughout your practice. I also like the fact that the classes are 75 minutes rather than 60.

Ahimsa Yoga Studio – multiple locations throughout the suburbs, I practice at 14 W Burlington Ave #15, La Grange.


HIIT & Strength Training



I freaking love this place. It’s one of the best workouts I partake in, and I really see results from going here both mentally and physically on a regular basis. The basic premise is that you rotate between doing HIIT on the treadmills, and strength training on the “decks” (the floor). Every teacher and every class I have taken has kicked my ass in the best way possible. In my opinion, it makes running very accessible. I am not naturally a runner, but by doing HIIT in these classes, I will have run several miles without even realizing. At first, I was intimidated by the classes but honestly, they’re accessible for everyone. You set your own running pace which you find at every single class. They really stress listening to your body and finding the paces that best suit you. Some people run the entire time, some people walk the entire time. Either way, it is extremely motivating and everyone is only worried about themselves. I have been to and worked at both the South Loop and Hinsdale location.

Shred415 – multiple locations everywhere!, I go to 1136 S Delano Court West, Suite E202, Chicago and 230 E Ogden Ave, Hinsdale.


The HIT Locker

I tried this workout studio when a location in LaGrange opened up. They have a promotion for a free class! There were a couple things I didn’t like about it, and other things that I did like. First of all, they have huge signs in the window advertising for a brand of protein powder that is loaded with sugars and not so great ingredients, which detered me away at first. Second of all, at the beginning of the workout, the instructor goes around and asks each and every person (over a microphone) what they ate for breakfast, and what they were going to eat after the workout. I understand the intention– to incorporate nutrition into training, but it really turned me away. When I stated that I had a juice before the workout, the instructor seemed to disapprove. When I said I was having a smoothie after the workout, she said “I hope it’s going to be a protein smoothie.” I found this to be pretty rude and judgemental considering I doubt these people are even trained in nutrition, and she probably didn’t even know what “collagen” was and why I would choose to put that in my smoothie rather than a sugar loaded protein powder. The class itself was decent. The thing that was pretty cool about it was that instead of treadmills, the class consisted of rotating between an elliptical and strength training. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of this class, I truly think it is a great option for people with bad knees, or people who don’t like running and would prefer to workout on an elliptical.

The HIT Locker – 71 S LaGrange Road B, LaGrange.



Disclaimer before I talk about spin: I am not very good at it. I will be the first to admit that spin classes are not my forte. For some reason, my legs LITERALLY cannot move as fast as the instructor’s and I get tired really freaking fast. However, I love the challenge and it really works my body hard. I probably take a spin class once a month on average.

Soul Cycle Old Town


 SoulCycle is my favorite Spin studio. The vibes are insane, and pretty hard to explain. The music is blasting; like really good music, really freaking loud. I truly get lost in the music while I’m there and it makes me wanna just dance and sweat. Everyone in the studio is in it together and it really feels like a community. It’s also extremely dark with some candles lit, and it is a really great environment to focus on yourself and push yourself. Every class I have taken at SoulCycle has been really enjoyable and overall a great experience.

SoulCycle- multiple locations everywhere!, I go to 111 West Wacker, Chicago and 1225 North Wells Street, Chicago.



This studio is pretty similar to SoulCycle, but different in a couple of ways. The bikes are a bit different; they tell you how hard you are pushing and how much resistance is on your bike. I kind of like knowing this info, but sometimes I want to just let go of the numbers and listen to my body. Something I don’t like about this spin studio is that you are ranked beside everyone in the class. Periodically throughout the class, everyone’s names are put up on a screen and they are listed by who has the highest “Power.” Personally, I work my ass off but I am always still near the end which discourages me and makes me not want to go back. It also tracks how much calories you burn with each class which I think is very inaccurate (I sure as hell burn more than 300 calories after I’m dripping sweat after a spin class) but honestly, who cares about calories burned anyways. This studio is great for me to go to when I’m in the burbs, but ultimately, SoulCycle is my jam.

Cycle Bar- multiple locations everywhere!, I go to 124 Burr Ridge Parkway, Burr Ridge.



When I first heard about this place, it sounded like a dream! It is 20 minutes of spinning (biking), 20 minutes of strength training (they have TRX bands!) and 20 minutes of yoga. The studios are very nice, but the vibes just weren’t there for me. To be fair, I only tried one class, and it was definitely a good workout. There just weren’t very many people in my class and it wasn’t a very motivating group. I also did not really enjoy the yoga portion because the teacher seemed inexperienced, and I just wanted a lot more yoga at the end. But I think the concept is extremely cool, and maybe if I would have been in a different class I would have enjoyed it more.

Spenga- multiple locations everywhere!, I go to 5126 Main St, Downers Gove.



Disclaimer about Pilates: I don’t really like it. I think it’s a really good workout, but some classes I have been to just kind of bore me. I will say though, Yoga Pilates at CorePower Yoga (specifically Leslie’s class at 9:15 on Tuesdays in LaGrange) is extremely challenging and I love it. Combining Pilates with Yoga makes it so much more challenging and enjoyable for me personally. But honestly, I pretty much love anything combined with yoga.


The Dailey Method

 I used to work in the Kid’s Room at The Dailey Method a very long time ago, but I wasn’t into working out then so I didn’t take advantage of the classes. I took a couple classes there with my mom recently and it was just okay. It seemed to me like it was the same women that go to every single class and I felt out of place. The workout was just okay, and I was kind of doing the pilates moves more like yoga moves, and I felt awkward. We did a lot of moves at the barre along with on the floor. Maybe it was just that location, but I did not like the vibes at all. However, I’m sure there are awesome classes there and I should probably give it more of a chance in the future.

The Dailey Method- multiple locations everywhere!, I go to 118 W Calendar Avenue, LaGrange.


I hope you found this helpful in saving money on workouts, and finding which workouts you want to try next! In all seriousness, if you live in the Chicago area, contact me and I would LOVE to try out new studios with you, or bring you to some of my favorite classes.


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